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As part of a selection before an interview for a position in a bank, I need to undergo a psychometric test.

Of course, the aim of the company is to select a single candidate which will fit the best the position : so the aim isn’t to succeed at the test but to get the highest score among all others.

The test is to be completed remotely (I mean from home) on a website. One of the requirement is you have 6 minutes to complete it and there’s so much question that you should answer 2 questions per second in order to finish the test… At that speed, you have course no time to think at which is the correct answer if the result isn’t clear immediately.

One of the characteristics of the test is the time limit is clearly performed on the client side (and that on server side they have just the number of questions answered). Of course, I already know that cheating is bad and that lying at telling it’s the exact thing I want to do (whereas it barely satisfies what I need for my apprenticeship) is bad.
Nothing is spoken or captured through video. It’s only about reading and writing.

But as this is for a computing position in a deprived job market, should I instead expect that almost everyone will perform the trick which allows to slow down the counter and thus multiply the allowed time to complete by 20× since a second as measured on the computer would take 20 seconds in reality ?

After this selection step, I have good reasons to think with my experience I would succeed at the interview (which is the last step as selection).

closed as off-topic by gnat, IDrinkandIKnowThings, Dukeling, Twyxz, Rory Alsop Jun 14 at 15:37

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  • "Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else. Instead of asking which decision to make, try asking how to make the decision, or for more specific details about one element of the decision. (More information)" – IDrinkandIKnowThings, Dukeling, Twyxz, Rory Alsop
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  • "2 questions per second" you got something very wrong. 500ms per question is maybe testing your automation skills, but I would not rely on a human even being able to make no decision at all and press a single button that fast. – nvoigt Jun 12 at 16:18
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    @JMK yes, but this won’t prevent completetion. This wouldn’t be the first time I does such thing and the human behind fails to spot the time spent as not normal. – user2284570 Jun 12 at 16:29
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    @dwizum Cheating at the exam is bad, but cheating for getting a job won’t result me in losing my Master degree if spotted years laters. – user2284570 Jun 12 at 16:30
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    I think if you such a clever guy with a lots of ideas about cheating, maybe you are better off looking for a job where they try to identify cheaters? After all, none better than a cheater to recognise other cheaters. Plus, you use your skills in a positive way. – Captain Emacs Jun 12 at 18:42
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    One more thing. You seem to work hard to justify your decision to cheat. It seems you have already made up your mind. Why do you ask us? What is your goal? – Captain Emacs Jun 12 at 18:55
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Don't cheat.

There's a good chance that you'll get caught, and even if you don't get caught, it's bad policy. Trying to build a career on lies will come back to bite you. Even if it doesn't bite you with this position, it will bite you eventually. Better to start as you mean to go on.

You note the possibility that others will also be cheating. That's true. If they cheat and the company is good at catching such things, then those competitors have been eliminated, and your chances get better. If they cheat and the company is not good at catching such things, then the only way to compete is to cheat... in which case it becomes a question of who cheated hardest. It also suggests some unfortunate things about the likely makeup of the employees at the company in question. Going into a job at a bank that's predisposed towards cheaters and corruption is not likely to end well.

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    The truth is I have to pick up a meh job. The point is I think I will be one of the lone guy at being honest. – user2284570 Jun 12 at 16:24
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    "the only way to compete is to cheat" I would argue that's not inherently true. The test is likely a way to weed out very poor candidates. The real decision, from among the good candidates, is made based on the interview and the rest of the hiring process. In other words, you don't need to get the best score, you just need to do well. Cheating in order to get THE BEST POSSIBLE score is likely a complete folly, since the best possible score may not really be any better than the score you can get by not cheating, in terms of your chances at the job. – dwizum Jun 12 at 16:45
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    @dwizum it’s perfectly written the test is a step to select applicants which don’t need to be interviewed. Also, remember the interview isn’t about getting things in short timing. In the way I plan to cheat, I will still need to give the correct answers. – user2284570 Jun 12 at 17:02
  • @user2284570 "the aim isn’t to succeed at the test but to get the highest score among all others" - that suggests that you must get the highest score. "must get an adequate score and then do well on the interview" is a very different situation. – Ben Barden Jun 12 at 18:17
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    @user2284570 do you know what the scoring threshold is for the test? Do they only take the top 5% of scores? Or do they take the top 99%? It seems like you're making a lot of assumptions about how the system works without many hard facts. – dwizum Jun 13 at 13:03
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Robert A. Heinlein's book "Space Cadet" has some boys being tested for admission to a space academy. One of the tests requires them to put a bottle on the floor, shut their eyes, and try to drop beans into it one at a time by remembering where it is. The hero, Matt, only gets one bean in. Other candidates did much better. He asked what there was to stop people from cheating, and was told "Nothing at all.".

Matt left, grumbling. It did not occur to him that he might not know what was being tested.

The book was published in 1948, so the idea of an easily cheated test as filter to select people who do not cheat is even older than I am.

The test you describe could be looking for either or both of two habits that would be negative for a bank computing person:

  1. Cheating.
  2. Cutting corners and entering guesses without thinking.

Either of those would result in a lot of answered questions, with more correct answers in the first case. Careful non-cheaters, the ideal bank computing people, would get a few answers but most of those would be correct.

Of course, the bank's recruitment people may just be stupid.

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    This is a very real possibility. Banks are highly motivated to find IT people who are honest. IT departments in banks are generally highly audited and monitored. Cheating on an entrance exam for a bank IT position is setting yourself up for disappointment. – dwizum Jun 12 at 16:37
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    I passed the test for one of the 2 positions honestly, and I was rejected. So it’s not about highlighting who cheat. – user2284570 Jun 12 at 17:05
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    @user2284570 It's a mistake to assume you understand 100% of what is being examined in this test. That's exactly what the example in this answer illustrates. For all you know, for the previous position you were out-scored by another applicant who also did not cheat, or that candidate did not cheat and was better qualified besides. The key is that it will be obvious that you cheated in this way. – Upper_Case Jun 12 at 17:37
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You seem interested in approaching this question without any concerns of the ethics or possible negative impacts of cheating - only with concern over competing against other candidates. I think you've already received good answers and comments that address ethical concerns or negative impacts, so I am going to address the point you seem stuck on. In a comment, you said:

So the point is if they cheat I won’t be able to compete.

Generally, that is not true - if, by "compete," you mean "have a chance at getting the job."

Employers use several tools during the hiring process, for different purposes. But ultimately, it's a combination of these different tools that helps them make hiring decisions. Having THE BEST result from one single selection tool may not be an important factor in the final decision, especially for something like a psychometric test. Generally, these tests are used to weed out very poor candidates and as long as your score is not terrible, there is no significant impact to the process by making it better.

That said, if you're able to get a good score without cheating, then cheating to get a great score may make zero difference in terms of actually getting the job. So - cheating basically leads to no tangible advantage but comes at the cost of huge risks.

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    Except that the questions aren’t related to the job, and that I’m find on those type of interviews. This is just to better reach the next step. And of course, I can only get a bad score at the test. I already got my application rejected at the first position (where I was honest). – user2284570 Jun 12 at 17:26
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    Consider that if the employer is using a test, they consider it important, even if you do not understand how the questions relate to the job duties. At any rate, do you know it was actually because of the test that you were rejected, and not another reason? Have you considered trying to study, or learn material, in order to do better? If you applied honestly and were rejected, it probably means you were not a good fit - rather than cheating to try to get in to the job, what about applying for jobs where you are naturally a better fit? – dwizum Jun 12 at 17:30
  • I could had got my application rejected before reaching the test, the recruiting process clearly specify rejections happens after each steps. So if it was for an other reason, I would have received the message before being invited to pass the test. – user2284570 Jun 12 at 21:50
  • @Niko1978 then it goes back at making a reasonable 6 minutes score. – user2284570 Jun 13 at 11:06
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That test is designed to put you under time pressure. They've surely designed it so nobody can answer all the questions. And, they've designed it to measure your "fast" thinking (cf Thinking Fast and Slow by Danny Kahneman).

They're surely measuring something other than the absolute number of "correct" answers. If you somehow defeat the time pressure factor, they will know.

You are probably wise not to try to game this kind of psychometric test; certainly not if you don't know what it measures.

As you assess whether this is the company for you, obviously, take into account the fact that their HR people have a green light to use this kind of test on candidates. Is that a good sign about company culture, or bad?

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    In the first test, I defeated the time pressure problem without cheating, but then I could answer only 1 out of every 4 questions (others would have required more time to answer). The aim at cheating is to still have a reasonable score which can be achieved normally of course. To be clear, this is definitely not at all a job for me as it barely meets the requirements of my Master degree, but I’m not in a situation I can choose. – user2284570 Jun 13 at 11:40

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